Stavros Papadokonstantakis: Believes in local changes to influence on a global level

​Stavros Papadokonstantakis is the Department of Energy and Environment's newest Associate Professor. He will work with industrial symbiosis and bio refineries and hopes to promote the topic of sustainability in the industrial world.

You are a new Associate Professor at the Division of Industrial Energy Systems and Technologies. Tell us a little about your background!
I started studying chemical engineering at the National Technical University of Athens when I was around twenty. My first choice out of heart was to study mathematics, but back then in Greece, it was much easier to find a job if you had studied engineering. After five years I started my PhD in collaboration with an oil refinery outside Athens. At the age of 29 I started working as a consultant in a chemical engineering company based in Atlanta, USA and Athens, Greece.
After two years working as an engineerign consultant, I noticed that tasks were repeating themselves and the working life was way too hectic, with almost no time to step back and critically think about what you were doing. So I said to myself “I´m 32 years old. I still have interest in science and engineering. I like the freedom in the academic world and I like to be closer to my family in Greece”. These were the main reasons why I chose academia and began as a Post Doc at ETH, Zurich, Switzerland.
You undoubtedly have lived and worked in several countries. How come you ended up in Sweden and what are you going to work with here?
After eight years in ETH, Zurich, I had become a senior researcher assistant. The next logical step was to look for a faculty position at the level of associate professor or above. When the Division of Industrial Energy Systems and Technologies announced a position as associate professor in chemical process synthesis for energy efficiency, I got interested. In addition, the surrounding conditions were similar, the type of life, the income conditions and the distance from Greece was not that different.

In Switzerland I was dealing mainly with energy issues in the chemical industry and the last two years with focus on industrial symbiosis and bio refineries. It was when I was on the interview, I discovered that these two topics were also of interest to the division. I saw the opportunity and the potential for the future and I saw that I easily could continue in my specific research area.  
What do you hope to accomplish in your new role as Associate Professor?
My future hope is that I will be able to be a link between this division and the Division of Environmental Systems Analysis and the Department of Chemical Engineering. Also, I hope that I can promote the topic of sustainability in the industrial world. Not as a nice to have tool, but as an everyday practice. I am interested in sustainability in a greater sense, which includes the economic viability of options, the environmental viability of options and also the social acceptability of options.
The social acceptability of options is not an area that I have done a lot of research in, but I would like to! For example; how can we communicate these things to municipalities, industries and policymakers? 
Why is it interesting with this wider perspective?
Because one of the main mottos in sustainability is that environmental issues are global, but the actions are local. But sometimes the local efforts seem pointless and the chances to influence globally lie far away. This view and this distance, I want to bridge! I know it’s not a one man show, but I hope to leave my footprint in this area.
Text and photo: Karin Ljungklint

Page manager Published: Mon 09 Feb 2015.